Monday, October 1, 2012

The Vessel of Ropav - Chapter 1

Today's muse:

As mentioned previously, I started writing this fantasy story, but have lost my vision, so it's shelved. But since I posted another excerpt, I thought maybe I could post what I've written so far and see how everyone feels. Who knows...maybe it will inspire me to finish.

And by the way...has anyone noticed the name of the Vessel?

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The Vessel of Ropav - Chapter 1

“The bidding will commence at £12,000.”

A low hum drifted through the crowd as everyone speculated on the value of what was, in essence, a nondescript piece. A small, clay chalice with rough etchings, shaped somewhat like a pear. It was ugly, really.

When the vase was delivered to the auction house, there was great skepticism among the staff. No one knew what this urn was or whether it had any value. Upon analysis, it was determined that it dated to at least the time of the pharaohs but no one could decipher the cryptic symbols. They appeared to be hieroglyphics, but no translation was completed. Oddly, the National Museum was not interested in acquiring it, insisting it had no historical value. The board of directors of the auction house finally agreed to sell it, confident someone would want to own it—even if it was nothing more than a decorative conversation piece.

The auctioneer repeated the starting bid, somewhat desperate when there was no reaction. “£12,000 for this...vase.” He struggled to name the ancient urn. “This piece was recovered from a pharaoh’s tomb.”

A paddle at the back of the room rose above the heads. The auctioneer, delighted that someone had at last bid, jabbed a finger at the man and shouted “£12,000! Do we have twelve-five?”

No one moved.

The old man at the back of the room inclined his head in acknowledgement and lowered his paddle. A dark wool coat hung across his thin shoulders, a black homburg perched on his thinning, gray hair. On his weathered face, angry red scars competed for attention with deep wrinkles. No one noticed the excitement dancing in his eyes.

For too many years, Ethan Chamberlain had chased this sacred piece across five continents. His quest had taken him to the most inhospitable countries, on decrepit ships that threatened to sink at any moment, and airplanes that defied science by remaining airborne. He had been hospitalized more times than he chose to remember, often surprising medical staff with his survival.

“Going once ... going twice ...”

An elegant woman, a sheet of auburn hair cascading down her back, raised her paddle in the air. Angered, Ethan raised his own before the auctioneer could acknowledge the woman’s bid. Several heads turned to stare, but he kept his eyes on the vessel. He had never come this close and he knew he never would again. He would not fail. Could not.

Worlds depended on it.

As the price was acknowledged, another paddle was raised. Then another. And yet another. The auctioneer was surprised, yet excited, at the interest shown in this otherwise unknown piece.

The value escalated quickly as bidders volleyed prices, each one vying for ownership of a relic they knew nothing about. Ethan sat back and watched. He would wait for the right moment.

A buzz rippled through the crowd as the price reached £500,000. An enormous woman in the second row raised her paddle. Sausage fingers clasped the handle as she waved it in the air, her arm undulating like a flag in the breeze. The auctioneer’s excitement was tangible and he bounced on the balls of his feet as he called for additional bids.

“Six. Do I hear six? £600,000 for this ...”

Enough! In the back row, Ethan’s hand rose high in the air.

“One million.”

Silence descended on the room like a heavy pall and every face turned to look at him, awed by this brazen breach of protocol.

“Well! I…” the large woman protested. Not that she was about to outbid the strange man—a million pounds for heaven’s sake!—but it was the principle of the thing.

Ethan Chamberlain continued to stare at the vessel, his face impassive, contrary to the joy that blazed within.

No one in the room knew the chalice was fashioned by gods. No one knew it would bring unspeakable power to the owner. No one knew how to fill it.

Except Ethan Chamberlain. He knew. He knew this and more.

When the auctioneer slammed his gavel, Ethan rose, ignoring the overt stares of those around him, as he hurried out of the room to make arrangements for payment.

And arrangements for the ceremony that would fill the Vessel of Ropav on the night of the new moon.


Charley Robson said...

How fascinating! The "unspeakable power" divergents are a little cliche'd , but overall it's a very interesting proposition. Coupled with the extract you gave us last time, I'm guessing this Vessel is no benign Holy Grail . . . *shudders*

Monica Manning said...

@ Charley Robson: I know. I know. *sigh* If I ever finalize this story, I'll re-work that. I do appreciate your comments, so keep them coming! Honest, constructive criticism is always appreciated here.

Monica Manning said...

Thank you to Tara who pointed out my currency error. Pounds, not dollars. *forehead slap* Married to a Brit, she'd pick that up right away. Cheers, Tara!